Writing in the Ottawa Citizen, Lawrence Scanlan seems to be out to produce a "greatest hits" package of anti-Stephen Harper tirades.
What emerges is a rather contemptible smear-job on the sitting Prime Minister and his government. Indeed, one that actually goes so far as to implicitly envoke first Nazi Germany, and then later communist East Gearmany.
"Ursula Franklin -- the celebrated physicist, pacifist, author and Companion of the Order of Canada -- recently spoke to CBC Radio's The Current. She had survived a Nazi death camp and come to Canada hoping for better. Now 88, Franklin is 'profoundly worried about the absence and erosion of democracy in Canada.'Ursula Franklin is certainly entitled to her opinion. As the survivor of a Nazi work camp -- Franklin spent her time during her imprisonment during World War II repairing bombed buildings, not performing the kind of aimless hard labour undertaken at the death camps -- she has earned that right in a manner harder than most.
Democracy, I heard her say on the radio, is a slow and messy process. When Franklin sees cabinet ministers holding press conferences to discuss legislation not yet debated in the House of Commons, she sees that process being skirted. And when she hears the prime minister saying he does not 'trust' the Opposition, she sees contempt for democracy itself. 'Who wants to live in a country,' Franklin asked, 'where those who don't think like you are deemed untrustworthy?'"
But for Scanlan to exploit the wartime plight of this woman is actually rather contemptible. Scanlan simply must know how many Canadians would be reluctant to criticize the views of a Nazi work camp survivor.
Nonetheless, Franklin's views on democracy are clearly in error on a number of points.
First off, in suggesting that cabinet ministers discussing legislation in the media before debating it in Parliament skirts democracy, Scanlan clearly misunderstands the true nature of democracy.
Democracy isn't merely something that takes place in the halls of Parliament. Rather, in a healthy democracy issues and ideas -- including legislation -- are discussed in as many forums as possible, including the media. Cabomet ministers discussing legislation with the media before debating it in Parliament haven't skirted anything -- they've engaged in a democratic discourse that will reach the citizenry far faster than anything recorded in Hansard.
Moreoover, Stephen Harper is actually quite entitled to distrust the opposition, especially considering the kind of character assassination the opposition has waged against him for the better part of 20 years.
The question Franklin asks about living in a country where "those who don't think like you are deemed untrustworthy" is one that has applied to Canadian conservatives for the aforementioned better part of 20 years, wherein they were often denounced as dangerous, reactionary, undemocratic and anti-Canadian -- all for thinking differently than the Canadian left.
Under these circumstances, it's only natural that Canadian conservatives would come to distrust their political adversaries. Their political adversaries have long sought to sew distrust of them, and relied on a combination of conspiracy theories, deliberate disinformation and McCarthyist tactics -- in which denials are treated as evidence of guilt, and only admissions are accepted -- in order to do so.
Sadly, Scanlan isn't done with Ursula Franklin just yet:
"Ursula Franklin defines peace as the presence of justice and the absence of fear. Which is ascendant in our home and native land -- justice, or fear? Canada Day chest-beating and fireworks failed to counter other evidence that this country has morphed so radically that one has to wonder if Lester B Pearson would, today, even recognize the place. The tar sands, our pathetic stance at the Copenhagen conference on climate change, the prison farms/super prisons debacle, ongoing asbestos mining, the shift from peacekeeper to major player in a dubious war, Afghan detainees: what's appalling, and indeed what has perhaps enabled all this, is our apathy. And there's a price to be paid for apathy."Apparently, in Scanlan's mind, if Canada isn't pursuing his ideological idea of justice, then all that can be left is fear.
If Canadians were afraid of their government, that would be one thing. It would be a very bad thing.
Yet individuals like Scanlan spent nearly 20 years blatantly fear-mongering against the party that currently governs Canada. It seems that perhaps fear was a good thing, so long as it served Scanlan's ideological agenda.
Perhaps the most perverse part of Scanlan's article is that he implicitly envokes Nazism one moment, then declares a war to keep one of the most Nazi-like regime of the late 20th century (perhaps second only to the Khmer Rouge) from returning to power to be "dubious".
If Canadians were truly less proud of their country, that would be another thing.
But just as with Scanlan's fear implication, all the evidence is to the contrary.
While many Canadians were quite rightly concerned with the excesses of police power during the G8 and G20 Summits, the aftermath was not a Canadian people afraid of their government. Rather, it was Canadians enraged at the anti-democratic actions of black bloc rioters who share a similiar agenda to Scanlan's.
Moreover, the evidence is not that Canadians are less proud of their country. The evidence is that Canadians are more proud of their country.
Unless, of course, one is Lawrence Scanlan, whose pride in his country clearly hinges on its adherence to a far-leff-wing ideological agenda. Then, perhaps, one is not so proud of their country.
But it's time that individuals such as Scanlan learn that they aren't any more Canadian than anyone else, and that their personal politics don't entitle them to distort facts or historical truth in order to demonize their adversaries.
Is Canada any less proud for having Stephen Harper as Prime Minister? Not at all.
But Lawrence Scanlan is all the more contemptible for the lengths he has gone to in order to suggest this.